When Kenny Rogers, Diahann Carroll and nearly 100 other celebrities visited Taft, Calif., over the weekend, they set off what they hope will be a productive chain of events. The celebrities joined 1,200 townspeople in forming a mile-long human chain for a video promoting the Hands Across America project for hunger relief.

The three-minute video, to be shown during the Super Bowl pregame show on Sunday, touts USA for Africa's plan to raise up to $100 million for America's hungry through pledges and the symbolic linking of hands in a coast-to-coast human chain on May 25. Although coming up with the 5.4 million people needed to make the nationwide chain seems a tall order, Ken Kragen, the entertainment manager who masterminded USA for Africa's "We Are the World" video and album, said he feels confident they will find them. The estimated 100 million people watching the Super Bowl will be asked to participate along the 4,135-mile route and each donate a minimum of $10.

Hands Across America spokesmen said Taft was selected for the promotional video because the small oil town is representative of Middle America and is only 110 miles from Los Angeles, making it easy to bring equipment and celebrities there and back in a few hours. The Boss Is Back

Fans attending a Sunday night benefit concert for workers facing layoffs at a New Jersey plant went wild when home-town rock star Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band walked on stage unannounced to give a free concert. The overjoyed patrons of the Stone Pony, a Jersey Shore nightclub that Springsteen frequented early in his career, greeted the singer with four minutes of raucous applause. After proclaiming, "Remember what we're doing this for," he broke into "My Hometown," a ballad from his "Born in the U.S.A." album that describes the effect of a 1964 textile plant closing in Freehold, N.J. The song has been adopted as an anthem by the 3M workers scheduled to lose their jobs when their plant in Freehold closes this spring.

Springsteen performed for about 40 minutes. Bar officials said that the benefit raised $5,000, which will be used to support the union campaign to keep the factory in Freehold. Stubborn Birds

Sometimes Mother Nature doesn't cooperate, even for the pope. Pope John Paul II tried Sunday to release two white doves from the window of his private study overlooking St. Peter's Square as a symbol of peace, but the birds refused to go. After the pope launched them into the cold drizzle, the birds promptly flew back inside the papal apartments, ignoring the pontiff's attempts to head them back to freedom. Laughing, the pope remarked, "One sees they want to bring peace to the pope. They'll fly later." End Notes

"People ask me my recipe for a long life. I tell them drink martinis, smoke cigars -- and dance close," remarked comedian George Burns. It seems to work for him. Yesterday he celebrated his 90th birthday . . .

A fan described as "disturbed" broke into Yoko Ono's home in the Dakota apartment building in New York City Sunday, leaving his name, address, picture and two love notes for Ono. Neither Ono nor her son Sean Lennon had any contact with the intruder, Omer Tavers, who was arrested and charged with second-degree burglary even though nothing was stolen . . .

A memorial service for Robert Whittier Dudley will be held Thursday at 11 a.m. in the National Cathedral's Bethlehem Chapel. Dudley married Olga Hirshhorn, widow of Hirshhorn Museum founder Joseph, last fall